Calisthenics is one of the best ways to take a load off after a long day at work. It is the perfect was to stay in shape, lose weight and acquire some stunning gains. As we begin to advance to higher levels, inversion movements become an integral part of the program. This involves different variations of the handstand that will have us go upside. Being able to balance yourself in this position in this position is a very peak of fitness we all strive to achieve. However, there is a lot of hocus-pocus tied to this exercise with little facts to back it up.
Today, we break out the science books and set the record straight once and for all. So, all of you fitness fans out there had better hold on tightly to your hat. We are about to take you on a fast ride down ‘logic lane’ to expose five common myths attached to this pose. It is about time we separated the bro science from the actual science so you can make the best out of your time in the gym.
- Beginners Should Skip the Wall
Bro science has it that using the wall for progression is a bad idea. In fact, they say that the best way to master this pose is simple: by doing the handstand itself. If you consider what they are saying, it actually makes a bit of sense. I mean, is there a better way to learn curls other than actually curling? They also suggest that by using the wall, you will get too used to it and you will never be able to grow past it.
Now, though there may be some sense in what they say, there are huge downsides to these arguments. Unless you’re packing a very efficient core that needs no conditioning whatsoever, then you constantly need someone to hold your legs up when you invert. Without a partner to help you out, you probably won’t even last a split second in that position. Therefore, you will never be able to maintain this position long enough to learn to recruit all the right muscles and develop them over time.
By using progression in your workouts, you allow your body to adapt to the position you want to assume. With time, your body will evolve by developing your core and shoulder muscles so you can nail the pose with ease. Your muscle memory will also kick in, giving you a more comfortable, injury-free roadmap towards your goals. The wall is by far the best way to go for people at all fitness levels. Do not be fooled.
- Reserved for the Divinely Gifted
The first thing that fitness newbies think when they see someone strike this pose is that these people are exceptional. Most people perceive the things people do in calisthenics or yoga as talent. Not many people can do what they do, anyway. And for the most part, a majority of the stuff they do defy the laws of logic. So, it does stand to reason how this particular myth could come about.
However, the reality of the matter is that these moves take a lot of practice. Most of the people we see online doing this stuff have undergone years of vigorous training just so they can get it right. As unveiled in the sixth myth, it takes time for the body to learn and adapt to these movements, especially inversions. So, in the real sense, anyone with drive and commitment can do this. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never done a single sit up in your entire life
- Menstruating Ladies are a No-No
Saying that women in their periods should avoid the handstand would be allowing patriarchy to surface its ugly head back into the norms of society. The notion is that the inverted body position would cause the menses fluids to flow in the reverse direction, into the fallopian tubes. It is thought that this would cause endometriosis, a complication leading to a major source of pain for women. For years, this has been a huge misconception from the yoga community.
Thanks to research, no such cases have been documented from doing this exercise. In fact, reported cases occurred in places where the menstrual blood couldn’t possibly reach, some even being in men. Also, the justification that fluids would flow backward simply does not hold water. Sure, the down trickle rate may slow down. However, physics dictates that gravity will still work just fine in restoring the normal flow once a normal standing position is resumed.
- Take the Load off The Spine
Some experts advocate for this exercise’s spinal decompression properties. Having your spine to support your upper body all day against gravity and wearing a backpack (or a handbag) places cramps the individual vertebrae of your spine together. This is particularly so if you have to move around or stand all day. So, taking the pressure off the spine for a while can be the most satisfying thing you have ever done for yourself.
While there are a number of ways out there you can use to do this, these exercises are just not one of them. If anything, you have better luck achieving this learning to do more pull-ups instead. However, with these poses, your spine is still under compression. The only difference from the normal standing position is that this time, the compression is coming from your lower body instead of your upper body.
- More Blood to the Brain
Now, this claim would make a lot of sense if your blood vessels were made of rigid class. And if this was the case, then inverted poses would be bad for your legs. This is because your legs would probably die off from a termination of blood flow after a minute or two – all the blood would leave the legs and settle in your upper body. In addition, the blood vessels in your brain would probably pop from all that pressure, especially with your heart still pumping blood there.
The truth of the matter is that our brains are designed to function at optimal conditions with regular blood flow and pressure. Too much would mean risking a stroke and too little would mean passing out. Our blood vessels are made of flexible living tissues with valves designed to control pressure and flow to different parts of our bodies. This way, your body constricts the amount of blood reaching the brain, despite the increased pressure from the inverted position.
- Superhuman Brain Power
As with the first myth, this one is still related to the notion of increased blood flow to the brain. Fresh blood supply from the heart is packed with oxygen and other nourishing nutrients. It supplies these nutrients to cells and carries away toxins from them. Therefore, by increasing the supply to the brain, you would expect a better supply of nutrients and faster expulsion of toxins. And this would result in greater brain power. Right?
It is true that improving your brain nourishment will improve brain function. However, the only way you can achieve this is by eating the right foods. As discussed earlier, increasing blood flow to the brain beyond optimal levels would be asking for some serious trouble. So, this idea of increased blood flow causing pure genius is simply a myth designed by quack instructors at local gyms. There is no medical evidence to back this up.
Unfortunately, the empowering effects of the psychology game are highly seductive. And we eventually become exactly that which we believe. Backed by the idea that we get smarter by doing these workouts, we go all out on technical issues and succeed in them. However, instead of acknowledging our own IQs and competencies, we attribute it to these exercises. This explains the crowds of gym rats attesting to the magical effects of doing handstands in making people smarter.
It’s Good for The Heart
To pull this off, your muscles will probably go on overload to enable you to maintain this position. This is especially since your body is not very accustomed to being in it very often. As a result, your body will work on overdrive, which would lead to the muscles involved requiring more nutrient supply. This causes your heart rate to rise, increasing blood pressure to support the increased need for nutrients by the muscle cells. This rise conditions your cardiac muscles, making them stronger with time. Just as strong as a guy who does frequent cardio. Is this true?
It may be true that the increased heart rate from the exercise is good for the heart. Nonetheless, a two-minute pose does not put you in the same league as a person who goes for a thirty-minute run every morning. The demand for nutrients for the runner is much higher in the second case as opposed to the yoga practitioner in the first. So, if you use these poses for the better health of your heart, do bear in mind that you may need to supplement it with some actual cardio.
My good people, it is high time we rose from the deep slumber of misinformation. We live in the age of data and empirical evidence. Until we learn to use it, we will forever be stuck in the dreadful ages of darkness. It is important to respect the belief systems of other societies. However, it is even more important to question them before we decide to embrace them as our own. We believe that yoga is an extraordinary practice, but there is a genuine need to upgrade old belief systems with a new, scientific approach to doing things.
Annie Jones is the main person behind the BoostBodyFit. She started off a bit on the chubby side, but went through the transformation and now enjoys great health and looks great. She is a fan of bodyweight training and healthy living. She found the BoostBodyFit to share her experience on Health, Fitness, Nutrition and everything else between.